By Daniela Morales, 10th Grade
Imagine you were visiting a well-known tourist attraction and suddenly your life was put at risk. This is exactly what happened to those who were at the Morbi bridge on October 30 in Morbi, Gujarat, India. When the bridge, which was reopened on October 26 after undergoing renovations, collapsed, it plunged visitors into a 45 ft drop to the Machchu River. Out of those that fell into the Machu River, AlJazeera ‘22 reports that 141 died and 177 were rescued. When a 20 million rupees renovation goes south, questions arise and the family members of many victims have come forward demanding not only an explanation as to what happened but justice.
BBC, an outlet that has taken the role of gathering testimonies of survivors and family members, gives us multiple perspectives from locals. Kataben and Rajesh, a middle-aged couple, lost their three sons: Chirag, Mucchadiya, and Dharmik. Now, this middle-aged couple is left to live with the reminder of their sons, who they didn’t even have the chance to say goodbye to. When Kataben talked to BBC she said that “Whoever is responsible for my sons’ deaths should be punished”. Families of victims are strung with a mixture of emotions characterized by sadness but including a touch of anger.
Anger certainly is a valid feeling not only because of the impotence you feel because there’s nothing you could have done to prevent their death but of the disappointment, it brings you to know that the people that could have and were in charge of assuring the safety of visitors, did not do their job well. From the testimonies BBC collected, 2 groups of survivors share the same narrative: they told authorities at the bridge that it seemed overcrowded, and their safety concerns were ignored. Niti, a man that had been there along with his wife and his two daughters, said that “there might have been 400-500 people on it”. He also said, “I went and told the people selling tickets that they should reduce the crowds. I don’t know what they did about it.”
Luckily for Nitin and his family, they had already gotten off the bridge when it fell, but they were observers of the people that were thrown mercilessly into the lake. A group of three teenagers that survived the fall, also reported that the bridge was overcrowded. Mahesh, the one interviewed by BBC, said that when they saw the vast amount of people on the bridge “we thought we’d wait a bit, but the ticket checker said we had to move on. The bridge collapsed the moment we stepped on it.” While investigating this event, some people may look at the period in which the Morbi bridge was constructed, around the 1880s, and attribute is a reason for it being weak. However, it is not the oldness of the bridge the one to blame, but the company that was selected to procure its renovations: Oreva.
Old infrastructures, if properly taken care of, can withstand the long years of usage they’re put through. We have much older edifications like those dating back to the Roman era that are still standing strong. When police officials investigated the mechanics of the bridge to look for possible factors that led to its fall, they found that although Oreva had replaced the bridge’s flooring they hadn’t replaced the cables holding it, which were corroded. The evidence was presented in court and as of now 9 employees of Oreva ranging from managers to ticket administrators, have been arrested for what the police described as a “tragedy that could have been avoided.” The Morbi bridge disaster serves as a reminder of what a small carelessness can cause, spiraling into utmost disaster and bringing unforgivable pain.
Limaye, Y. (2022, October 31). Morbi Bridge collapse: The brothers who died in Sunday’s disaster. BBC News. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-63465616
Pandey, G. (2022, November 2). Morbi bridge collapse: How India tourist spot became a bridge of death. BBC News. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-63477292
Al Jazeera. (2022, November 1). ‘Morbi is devastated’: India mourns after Gujarat Bridge collapse. News | Al Jazeera. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/11/1/morbi-is-devastated-india-mourns-after-gujarat-bridge-collapse